On Monday 22 January, five new funeral ministers were licensed at Gloucester Cathedral by Bishop Robert.
The candidates completed their training through the Funeral Project last year, which consisted of 11 training sessions about leading funeral services and offering pastoral and bereavement care.
Siân Hogg, one of the newly licenced funeral ministers, was an occupational health nurse adviser before serious injuries from a horse-riding accident forced her to take early retirement. She and her husband moved to Falfield in Wotton-under-Edge in 2020.
Despite the closure of churches due to the pandemic, as soon as restrictions were lifted Siân got involved in the life of St George’s Falfield after being invited to become a churchwarden and then helping to lead services and keep things running after the benefice was suspended as part of the deanery strategic plan review.
“We had no clergy so I was taking on more and more and I remember praying one day for God to send us a retired minister to help lead our churches, and He told me it was me!”
Siân, who is currently into the discernment process in preparation for ordination, came to the Vocations Day in Gloucester last May and felt the Funeral Ministry course would be a good place to build her confidence around leading funerals.
“I’m much more aware of how common bereavement is and how it’s a rich place to point people to God.”
“The service itself was really significant for me. As I was walking out from the licencing, my husband asked me if I felt any different and I had to answer yes, I did. There was something very significant about publicly making my declaration of ascent and publicly the Bishop reading my licence and handing it over. I’ve likened it to a wedding. I walked into the Cathedral like a bride – I’d done all the preparation and the studies – and I’ve walked out like a wife, with the legal and theological status.
“I don’t know how many funerals I will take going forward, but my licence enables me to lead funerals anywhere in the Deanery so I value being able to offer that help to clergy. I’ve learned that no two funerals are the same, as no two families are the same. Each have their own preferences and needs, and it’s a real privilege to minister to them in their bereavement.”
In February 2023, Bishop Robert licensed the first six funeral ministers as part of the Diocese of Gloucester Funerals training programme. This year saw five new funeral ministers complete their training.
Nick Partridge, Diocese of Gloucester Funerals Lead, says, “At the service, Bishop Robert spoke about the ‘joy’ of funeral ministry, which may sound a bit contradictory; however, all those involved in funeral ministry will have experienced the sense of fulfilment that comes for helping a family through the most challenging times of their lives.
“Anyone interested in training to be a funeral minister should contact me as we will be running the course again this year, commencing on 22 April.”
The next Funeral & Bereavement Ministry Course will take place on Mondays from 22 April, 7.30pm to 9.00pm at No 4 College Green, Gloucester GL1 2LR
The next Bereavement Visitor Course will take place on Mondays from 24 June, 7.30pm to 9.00pm at No 4 College Green, Gloucester GL1 2LR
If you are interested in knowing more about the course, please contact Nick Partridge – tel: 07970 207377 or email: ku.gr1708615176o.coi1708615176dsolg1708615176@egdi1708615176rtrap1708615176n1708615176
Find out more information about Diocese of Gloucester Funerals, visit: Funerals – Diocese of Gloucester (anglican.org)